Here we are in France, 3 weeks of putting the (hopefully) finishing touches to the house. So much had happened since I last the house that I was very excited to see it. The week before we were there, my sister and her family stayed for a week. They had to do a bit of indoor camping because unfortunately the kitchen hadn’t been fitted in time for their arrival. I hope they still enjoyed themselves though – at least they were able to have a hot shower! Sadly for them, the kitchen started to go in just as they were about to leave and was ready to use by the time that we arrived. The kitchen may be have been delayed, but it is well worth the wait. It is much nicer than the kitchen we have at home and is great fun to use. We were lucky to find our kitchen fitter because he was able to help out with a lot of the other jobs that we needed to do. There was no way that we would have been able to work on the flooring, skirting, wall cladding and other bits and bobs if he hadn’t helped us out. We are very grateful to Matt for all his hard work.
During our first week, Tom spent a lot of time fixing lighting in the rooms. It is all well and good having a shower or going to the loo with the door open when it is just the two of you, but when there are a lot of builders around, it is a good idea to have the door shut! My DIY skills amount to painting and fixing towel rails and it was a little too early for that, so I was on Supermarket runs and Lego building with Molly. Neither of these things are particular hardships, although letting me loose in a French supermarket may not necessarily be the best idea.
I was able to help Tom with the storage for the living area. He had worked this all out very precisely on IKEAs design page which then kindly gave him a list of all the bits he needed. All of this was included on his mammoth ‘three trolley’ trip to Bordeaux IKEA, but something went wrong and a few bits were missing and a few bits were left over (a door rather than the vital screw we had forgotten to use). Off we popped to IKEA once again, but got round in record time and didn’t even stop for meatballs.
We also went to the Mairie to talk about bins and rubbish collections. I know that even though the translation of Mairie is Mayor, he isn’t the same as our Mayor in Lewisham, I still found it funny that we had to talk to him about our bins when at home residents have to ring a big call centre in a Council building somewhere. I work in the same office as the people whose role includes dealing with problems of missed collections and missing bins and I know that they like me would find it amusing. I can never imagine a situation where Tom and I would walk in to Lewisham’s Town Council Chambers to talk to the Mayor about getting a bin.
We have just started the second week and things have moved on massively. It was a flurry of excitement and activity here on Monday (yesterday). Thromas – our plumbers and electricians – came to install shower screens, heated towel rails and some of the lighting. This was the lighting that needed scaffolding to install so Tom wasn’t able to do it. It is amazing what a bit of lighting can do to a room. With these major jobs done there would be a lot less dust being created. This meant we could put furniture together and remove plastic coverings from the windows – the later of these activities certainly made the place feel a little less like a building site. Flapping plastic in never a good look. With the furniture in place we were finally one the way to having a home.
On Thursday, Fred (French Fred), the man doing our earthworks is starting. Hopefully, by the middle of next week we will have a driveway, footpath and some useable garden at the back of the house. This will make a huge difference to the look of the house. Removing plastic from the windows does help stopping the place look like a building site, but the piles of earth and stone all over the place do nothing for the look of the house.
I’m off to do some more cleaning now, we’ve got guests coming in a couple of days, so we need to get things a little more tidy – I think you put up with a lot more when you’ve been living with it for a while. I’ll report back soon on our progress…., but it really is all coming together….!